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Minutemen pitching collapses against Blue Devils

The Massachusetts baseball team once again saw its pitching staff falter and another contest slip away, losing 17-12 to Central Connecticut State.

Trouble came early for the Minutemen (7-20, 5-7 A-10), who trailed by six runs after three innings of play. Timely hitting by the Blue Devils (15-12) helped them jump out to a two-run first inning lead, and they never looked back.

After a scoreless second inning, the Blue Devil offense exploded with a four-run third inning, including a two-run home run by infielder Pat Epps. UMass starting pitcher Glen Misho lasted two innings and gave up five earned runs on six hits while striking out one batter.

“Clearly he struggled right from the start,” said UMass coach Mike Stone. “He didn’t have command of his curveball and when you’re facing good hitters, you’ve got to have more than two pitches.”

The Minutemen answered with three runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning, but could not match the bats of their opponents. Freshman Ryan Cusick contributed an RBI single followed by a sacrifice fly by junior Eric Fredette and an RBI double by outfielder Mike Donato.

In the sixth inning, the offense came alive again for the Minutemen as they scored four times to trim their deficit to one run. Outfielder Alex Fischer, Fredette and junior Matt Gedman each recorded RBI singles and Donato reached base on a throwing error to put the score at 10-9 heading into the seventh inning.

The Blue Devils capitalized on errors and poor pitching by UMass throughout the remainder of the game and added two more runs in the seventh inning as well as an additional five in the top of the ninth. Relievers Charlie Benson and Robert Machado combined to allow eight earned runs on 13 hits and recorded five strikeouts over the same amount of innings.

Three errors on the day and mental mistakes were costly for UMass. Coach Stone said that he understood why some of the errors were made, but not the mental mistakes.

“Those things can happen,” Stone said. “You’re out there for a while and you have a mental letdown because our pitchers were getting hit all over the place, and that part’s tough. That’s what leads to errors. But we didn’t get anybody out and we needed to compete better out there today.”

In the bottom half of the ninth, the Minutemen found their hitting ways again and scored three times. Fischer recorded another RBI single and scored a run, after Fredette drove him in. However, the effort came too late and CCSU held on for the victory.

Despite the loss, Stone said he was happy with the way his offense performed while trailing throughout the game. The Minutemen recorded 14 hits and scored 12 runs in the game.

“I told the guys you always need to stay positive,” Stone said. “We have good hitters and we just had to keep fighting and we did. You never know when you can come back. The bad part was that we couldn’t get guys out on the other end.”
 The Minutemen are in action again on Wednesday when they travel to Harvard for a 3:00 p.m. matchup. 

Michael Wood can be reached at mcwood@student.umass.edu.

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